In this episode of Taken, host, creator and director Lisa Meeches introduces us to Marie Jeanne Kreiser, a residential school system survivor. By all accounts, Marie Jeanne was a loving mother known for her kindness. However, Marie Jeanne also struggled with alcoholism, depression and suicide attempts. While in the custodial care of the residential school, Marie Jeanne fell prey to abuses that scarred her, making her vulnerable to dangerous relationships as an adult, like so many other RSS survivors. In addition to suffering from abuse, she also became pregnant; Marie Jeanne carried her child to term and the child was forcibly taken from her and adopted by an unknown family. No one knows the whereabouts of her child.
Family and officials are concerned about the man named Al that Marie Jeanne was last involved. Al was described as a very cold, incommunicable man, known to have a violent history, who fell victim to his own dependence on alcohol and, ironically, was killed by a drunk driver. Marie Jeanne was last seen in September of 1987 in Westlock, AB.
After nearly 30 years from the time of her disappearance, Marie Jeanne’s remains have yet to be found. Originally, her case was listed as missing, but in 1990 the RCMP officials upgraded it to suspicious. (I did a little bit of online research and I found it interesting the web page the CBC has dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls still has Marie Kreiser listed as missing.)
Jody Stonehouse, researcher of Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, discusses some of the effects RSS survivors face as a result of their abuses. Children apprehended from their communities oftentimes suffered from depression and post traumatic stress disorder. When returning home, these same children no longer knew the language of their parents and did not know who they were, so they abandoned their home communities and returned to a large urban centre where they began to use alcohol or other substances as sedatives, particularly when they had suffered abuse.
The underlying theme of this episode of Taken focuses on the lateral violence and intergenerational trauma Indian Residential School survivors and their families face. Multiple generations across Canada were forced to attend these schools; as a result when these children grew into adults, the life partners they chose also struggled with the same issues of depression and PTSD. This results in descendants of these families living with the symptoms of their parents’ trauma as their own trauma.
Once again, this episode brings attention to the discriminatory clichés authorities sometimes use to repeatedly brush off this sexualized and racialized violence.
Taken airs Fridays at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.